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The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
Contemporary fiction

The Wishing Game


Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to The Wishing Game!


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Meg Shaffer, on your first book!

by Meg Shaffer

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Quick take

This moving, transportive story follows four bookish souls competing for a rare book from their favorite author.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Quirky


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Puzzle


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Underdog



Make a wish . . .

Lucy Hart knows better than anyone what it’s like to grow up without parents who loved her. In a childhood marked by neglect and loneliness, Lucy found her solace in books, namely the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson. Now a twenty-six-year-old teacher’s aide, she is able to share her love of reading with bright, young students, especially seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, who was left orphaned after the tragic death of his parents. Lucy would give anything to adopt Christopher, but even the idea of becoming a family seems like an impossible dream without proper funds and stability.

But be careful what you wish for . . .

Just when Lucy is about to give up, Jack Masterson announces he’s finally written a new book. Even better, he’s holding a contest at his home on the real Clock Island, and Lucy is one of the four lucky contestants chosen to compete to win the one and only copy.

For Lucy, the chance of winning the most sought-after book in the world means everything to her and Christopher. But first she must contend with ruthless book collectors, wily opponents, and the distractingly handsome (and grumpy) Hugo Reese, the illustrator of the Clock Island books. Meanwhile, Jack “the Mastermind” Masterson is plotting the ultimate twist ending that could change all their lives forever.

. . . You might just get it.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Wishing Game.
The Wishing Game



Every night, Hugo went for a walk on the Five O’Clock Beach, but tonight was the first time in five years his wandering feet spelled out an SOS in the sand.

He traced the letters carefully, drawing them large enough that they could be seen from space. Not that it mattered. The tide would wash the Five clean by dawn.

It had been a bit of whimsy on Jack’s part naming it the Five O’Clock Beach. Destiny, Jack said of finding this little patch of Atlantic forest twenty-odd years ago. These ninety acres right off the coast of southern Maine formed a near-perfect circle. Jack Masterson, who’d created Clock Island on paper and in imaginations, could now build it in real life. In his living room, Jack kept a clock with the numbers marked by pictures of places on the island—the lighthouse at the twelve, the beach at the five, the guesthouse at the seven, the wishing well at the eight—which led to conversations like . . .

Where are you going?

Five O’Clock.

When will you be back?

By the lighthouse.

Places were times. Times were places. Confusing at first. Then charming.

Hugo found it neither confusing nor charming anymore. One could go mad living in a house like that. Maybe that’s what happened to Jack.

Or maybe that’s what happened to Hugo.


Save Our Sanity.

The sand was so cold on his naked feet it felt wet. What day was it? May 14? May 15? He couldn’t say for sure, but he knew summer would be here soon. His fifth summer on Clock Island. Maybe, he thought, one summer too many. Or was it five summers too many?

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Why I love it

It is rare to come across a heroine that feels like a tiny part of me put into words. But Lucy Hart felt immediately very close to home. A love for word games and logic puzzles? Check. An extreme emotional attachment to her favorite childhood books? Check. A deep-seated desire to pass along her love of reading to those closest to her? Check.

Unlike me, though, Lucy gets to go on the adventure of a lifetime when the mysterious and elusive author of her favorite book series invites her to a competition on his isolated private island. The chance of winning a rare book means that Lucy might finally get to adopt Christopher, an orphan who already feels like family to her. But this contest involves scarier things than just puns and riddles, and meeting her idol forces Lucy to confront some uncomfortable truths about herself and her fears.

The Wishing Game is full of fun twists and turns, childhood whimsy, and quirky characters who’ll surprise you. But behind all the fun and games, Meg Shaffer craftily reminds all of us grownups about the power of wishing, and how much bravery it takes to chase a dream. For anyone looking for a warm hug in the form of a book, read on!

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Member ratings (27,416)

  • Lydia C.

    Indianapolis, IN

    What an absolute gift of a book! I haven’t felt this emotional or hopeful in a story since I read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune a few years ago. Loved everything about this book!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Abby D.

    Cumberland, RI

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!! This book was the best I have read in a while! It brought back all the nostalgia of my childhood and waiting for my Hogwarts letter or a satyr to take me to Camp Half Blood. A must read!!

  • Amanda G.

    Saint Louis, MO

    To put it simply, I adored this book. It was a warm hug, a fun adventure, a great escape. It made me feel like a kid in the best way and reminded me why I’ve loved reading my entire life. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Jennifer J.

    Neenah, WI

    This book was an absolutely magical read! I was very unsure about this book but ended up adoring every last detail of this book! Lucy, Christopher, Hugo & Jack were such lovable characters! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Stephanie E.

    Casper, WY

    For me, this book started off really slow, I was struggling to keep reading….but something happened and I just couldn’t put it down! A really great story, that brought sad and happy tears!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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